by Emily Conrad
When I see the word “wilderness” in the Bible, I think of the Israelites wandering for forty years, and of the desert, and of testing, and of frustration and thirst—for God, for progress, for green pastures.
I copied down a few Bible verses on note cards to hand out at a conference I attended. I flipped my Bible open to Hosea and scanned for the beautiful verses of reconciliation and love I know it contains.
As my pen traced the words of Hosea 2:14-15 onto the pretty little card, I slowed down and realized that the wilderness isn’t necessarily meant to be a place of isolation and struggle.
However, in the future I will allure her;
I will lead her back into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
From there I will give back her vineyards to her,
and turn the “Valley of Trouble” into an “Opportunity for Hope.”
Hosea 2:14-15a, NET
Another version, the ESV, calls it a “door of hope.” What a lovely image.
Through the haze of a stark landscape, a beautiful door comes into focus. Through it, we step into assurance God has good in store for His children, no matter our current circumstances.
With God, the wilderness and the “Valley of Trouble” become places of growing intimacy and of hope.
In fact, wasn’t that what the wilderness was meant to be in the case of the Israelites, too? The wilderness was a time to stay close to God—literally, as they could see Him. And they were on their way out of slavery and toward their new home. Talk about intimacy and hope!
But their attitudes turned it into something else.
Our attitudes can do the same.
The opportunity for hope doesn’t force itself on us. It’s a door we have to choose. In difficult circumstances, we can grumble and complain, or we can choose to trust Jesus, enjoy His presence with us, and watch for His deliverance.
I love to wander wildernesses with my husband. It’s my favorite kind of trip. We grow closer as we experience and explore new landscapes together.
That’s the picture we see painted in Hosea: God charming His people out into the wilderness, where He leads as a loving husband, guiding us down a path toward the best.
Even now, Jesus holds our hand as we travel away from the slavery that grew familiar. The landscape around us is so much more than a wilderness. It’s an opportunity to hope.